“More connects us than separates us.” — King T’Challa aka the Black Panther
Two weeks have passed since the release of Black Panther in theaters, and there’s no clear sign the film’s progress at the box office will slow down anytime soon. People have been pouring into theaters across the world to see what all of the fuss is about, and for good reason. This film is more than an extension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s one that can stand on its own, one that sets a precedent for future Marvel movies. Our full review goes into more detail about these claims. What I want to explore revolves around the all-important question lingering on the edge of the film’s connection with our own world: How should we handle the refugee crisis?
The Refugee Crisis in Perspective
The refugee situation in our country–and so many others around the world–has been a popular topic of conversation in the United States ever since Donald Trump was elected President back in November 2016. But it’s not just our country where this conversation is happening. Italy and Greece have similar “problems”, with refugees from Africa crossing the Mediterranean Sea in search for a better life. And as of 2015, Germany has the most amounts of migrants with Hungary not too far behind. Hungary even built a wall to stop refugees from coming in.
What’s their reasoning for such inhumane actions? Many countries believe this sudden influx of people will mess up their infrastructures, which aren’t designed to withstand the extreme amount of pressure. In an article from BBC, they state: “Tensions in the EU have been rising because of the disproportionate burden faced by some countries…” It’s clear from their frustration that the EU does more for the refugees than the United States.
While German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to help those in urgent need of asylum (Syrian refugees make up more than 50% of those residing in Germany), Donald Trump has closed the doors on Syrian refugees indefinitely. That said, both the EU and the United States do an underwhelming amount in comparison to other, less prosperous countries.
Jordan and Turkey have taken in over 3 million Syrian refugees combined. Pakistan and Lebanon are also on the forefront of housing those in need of refuge. But these countries aren’t as equipped for a situation like this. Instead of assisting in what could be the biggest crisis of the post-World War II era, the United States government–one of the most prosperous countries in the world–shut its doors completely on Syrian refugees. On the other hand, as a great article released by Vox puts it, “European citizens are voting for far-right anti-immigrant politicians in increasing numbers.”
Wakanda and the Importance of Humility
If you’ve seen Black Panther already, then I’m sure you’re beginning to see the connection, if you hadn’t already, between the film’s pressing issues and those that presently haunt the globe. The film’s main character, King T’Challa, is presented with a choice that’ll change the course of his hidden homeland, Wakanda, forever. Does he follow the tradition of his father by keeping Wakanda, and the Vibranium, a secret to the world, despite the aid going public could bring to those in need?
In this question, you get an idea of the threads Black Panther is pulling on. King T’challa doesn’t want to disrespect the wishes of his father (at first) but finds comfort in the thought he would be doing the right thing if he brought Wakanda out of the shadows. Those in need would slowly begin to prosper, but his countrymen wouldn’t enjoy their lavish ways any longer. When I put it like that, the decision he makes at the end of the film makes a lot of sense.
Like the wasteful nature found in Altered Carbon, Black Panther uses Wakanda as an example for how we as a global community should all act. The world is in need, but every great nation that has the resources to help is playing the Bystander Effect to the ultimate degree. And ignoring the facts, the obvious truth that becomes more and more prevalent every day, will come back to haunt us all if we keep at it. If the script were flipped, how would all those nations in favor of banning immigration feel when wealthier countries decided to turn a blind eye? Not so great, I can imagine.
Making a Change the Right Way
In Killmonger, the villain of Black Panther, you see the wrong way to make this stand. His intentions are great: taking from Wakanda to give to others in need around the world. But his plan to overthrow all of those that would oppose him, to use violence as a method of implementing his ideals… In the words of Frank Herbert from Children of Dune:
Atrocity has no excuses, no mitigating argument. Atrocity never balances or rectifies the past. Atrocity merely arms the future for more atrocity. It is self-perpetuating upon itself–a barbarous form of incest. Whoever commits atrocity also commits those future atrocities thus bred.
Initiating violence doesn’t solve an issue, it only creates more. Protecting yourself, though, is a different concept entirely. King T’Challa knew this; he understood the repercussions a war would bring to not only his people, but to the rest of the world as well. When one has as much power as him–in charge of a nation with an endless supply of the most powerful resource on the planet–every choice matters, large or small. For example, his decision to listen to Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) to bring Agent Ross (Martin Freeman) back to Wakanda to be healed ended up saving the world from the wrath of Killmonger. It also showed that helping an outsider, which can appear risky at first, doesn’t automatically mean bad things will happen in the future.
You Against the World
Forget what would happen to the great nations of the world if they all decided to help; that shouldn’t matter. What should matter, the only thing that should evoke a feeling of unconditional kindness within you, is what you’d do if you were given the opportunity to make a difference. Yes, there are risks! But you have to ask yourself whether or not the risks outweigh the guilt you’d feel if you did nothing instead.
Whatever country you’re reading this from, remember… Humanity needs your help. Be a real superhero; be King T’challa, Nakia, Okoye, Shuri, or Agent Ross and don’t forget about the duty to your conscious. Because, although the government has the final say, sometimes it’s the everyday person that can initiate the biggest change.